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I would like to know what are the parameters that I have to take into consideration before deciding whether I should incorporate to a website a "Q&A system" or a traditional forum ?

I think forums allow better search capabilities (you can easily dig out old posts) over the "Q&A system", but the latter offer simpler / faster interaction between the users and the site owners.

I should add that only a few people (site owners + authorized people) could answer the questions, the user will be on a read-only basis.

Anyone can help me decide between the two solutions ?

Thank you in advance

NB: There is also the impact on the SEOs, are they the same for forums and Q&A systems?

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Thanks for the link, helped me get started. –  danie7LT Aug 30 '12 at 7:33
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What do you mean by a "Q&A system"? Where people post questions and site owners answer them, but everyone doesn't see the question unless the owners publish it? –  paulmorriss Aug 30 '12 at 12:59
    
YES that's exactly what I'm looking for! –  danie7LT Aug 30 '12 at 13:03

2 Answers 2

I would have thought that your main decision as to whether you should host a Q&A site or a forum is really down to your content and what you are trying to achieve.

Q&A - Are questions being asked that can be answered with a single correct answer?

Forum - Are you open to extended discussion and peoples opinions?

I think forums allow better search capabilities (you can easily dig out old posts) over the "Q&A system"

I'm not convinced. Stack Exchange has a pretty decent search and I have had problems in the past trying to "dig out" old posts on some forums.

As for SEO, Christofian's linked question appears to cover that nicely.

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Stack Exchange is excellent but it can't be implemented in a website and you have to go through a voting system in area 51. This Q&A sys is not meant to be used outside of the stack exchange community –  danie7LT Aug 30 '12 at 12:10
    
@danie7LT: I was just using Stack Exchange as an example. Any other Q&A site could implement a similar system. What I'm saying is that the ability to search is irrelevant to the type of site. If, however, you are looking at systems currently available that you can plugin to your existing site then that might be a different issue. For all we know you might be developing this system yourself? –  w3d Aug 30 '12 at 12:22
    
In any ways the search capabilities was just one of criteria I thought being relevant to distinguish Forums from Q&A (but which is not at the end). The main purpose of the question was finding those criteria to help me decide. (And no I won't develop it by myself :) ) –  danie7LT Aug 30 '12 at 12:46
up vote 2 down vote accepted

Here are the answers I found online:

On Q&A systems:

From "David Givoni,bCofounder of Answerbase.com, a Q&A platform service. " Extracted from his answer on (quora.com) (you need to register to see the full post)

Q&A system:

  • are focused on problem solving
  • motivates through a point system
  • more user friendly

Focused on problem solving Where a normal forum lends itself to long discussions and exchange of opinions the Q&A system is more focused on solving problems.

On social Q&A sites the user who asks a question has a problem that needs a solution and the users who responds are other users with an expertise to help solve that problem. The answers are rated, the best get rewarded and for future users it’s easy to see what the solution to the problem was, since the best answer is highlighted. And when the solution has been reached the question is closed. There is also a race to get first with the right answer, since the first correct solution is normally the one rewarded.

So for users that are looking to solve an issue, Q&A systems are an excellent tool for doing that.

Motivates through a point system An expert on a Q&A site is able to earn points by answering questions quickly and correctly and since the questions are associated with specific categories, so the expert gains category specific points that can be used as a measurement of the experts knowledge and ability to share it.

Q&A software is more user friendly And since best answers are highlighted, the question has a status that indicates whether it’s been solved or not and since there is no paging or threaded discussions, it’s easier especially for future users to reuse the information given.

On Traditional Forums

From: "Sanjay Sabnani,I run a public company that owns, acquires, and operates forums. I also have over 75,000 forum posts across several forums since 1999" Extracted from his answer on the same post as above (quora.com). Also extracted from his answer

Forums on the other hand allow for a much greater degree of interaction because the members can not only ask questions, but share experiences as well. Asking and sharing are terms that pretty much sum up the entirety of experiences we encounter on the Internet so in this way forums are a much more ubiquitous platform for reaching out to your stakeholders. Levels of engagement is much higher because members are allowed a voice even when they do not have something that critical to add.

And about SEO being boosted by Q&A systems here is an in-depth analysis on their impact on a website --> seomoz.org: 6 Reasons Why Q&A Sites Can Boost Your SEO in 2011


Bottom line, Q&A is what I need

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